Field Testing The Sun Ray Invader YF-1 Target Probe

by Bill G. Revis

(Reprinted with permission from Western & Eastern Treasures magazine December 2006 issue)

Author Bill G. Revis zeroes in on another coin with the Invader YF-1.

    Ralph DeGraw and the folks at Sun Ray Detector Electronics have been pumping out high quality detector accessories for some years now, and the pinnacle of their line has been the highly popular inline pinpointing probes that they manufacture for most brands of detectors. Fortunately, unlike the current array of hand-held pinpointing probes out there, that are an extra item to carry, require another set of batteries, can be lost, left behind, stepped on and broken, and which in my experience have proved hard to hear with headphones on, have limited depth, and aren't cheap for what you get, there is a product on the market that eliminates all of the aforementioned problems. Enter the Sun Ray target probes, and in this case the Sun Ray Invader YF-1 mounted on a Garrett Ace 250 - a horse of a different color, into which went a lot of user consideration and engineering.

    The Invader mounts directly onto your detector and becomes an integral part of it, operating off the detector's power source and utilizing the detector's functions, such as target ID, discrimination, depth (although due to the difference in size of the two coils, depth readout is not accurate), and pinpointing. Basically a second coil to be used at your command with the flip of a switch, it consists of a small control box that mounts under the shaft directly ahead of the detector control box and sports two toggle switches. One toggle switches from the detector coil to the probe, and one for changing from the Ace detectors to the GTP and GTAX detectors when mounted on same. The other part is a 6 1/2" long, 1" diameter probe that snaps into two clips mounted directly in front of the arm cuff. Once it's installed, you just connect the coil cable to the Invader control box, and the Invader cable to the detector control box, and you're up and running. The additional weight is not even noticeable, and balance is not affected.

    Field Test

    When the first hand-held probes hit the market, they just didn't light my fire. In fact, they impressed me as a glorified stud finder; but then I've been on the working end of a detector for nearly 43 years, so I figured I didn't need anything to help me find a target. When the Sun Ray probes came out, my interest was tweaked slightly as I could see that these were a different breed. Then when one came out for my favorite little machine - the Ace 250 - my interest bumped up a few notches; so, I offered to field test one, and Ralph DeGraw at Sun Ray graciously sent me one to check out.

Bill found over $100 face value in coins during his field tests of the Invader YF-1, including half a dozen golden Sacagawea dollars.

    I hunt a lot of bark chip playgrounds, schools, and sports fields, so for the first test I headed out to one of my favorite playgrounds. The place is covered with ancient bark chips and a ton of dust mixed in, and it's a bear to retrieve coins there, no matter how much you scratch around. I figured that if the Invader could pick coins out of this mess, it could snag them anywhere.

My first signal was a quarter at 4". I roughly centered it with the detector, then took my big spoon, scraped back a pile of chips, checked the pile... and the quarter was there! I set the 250 on all-metal and cranked the sensitivity to max for optimum depth, flipped the toggle switch to "Probe," and ran the tip of the probe over the pile. Bingo! It nailed the quarter right off the bat, and I plucked it right out without any scratching and digging. You can use this setting where there isn't a lot of trash; otherwise, leave it in one of the discrimination modes. The quarter was stained the same color as the chips, so I would have been forever locating it without the probe.

    Right there my whole view about the Sun Ray probe was changed. I went on to retrieve about $2.50 in coins at this playground and found that I was saving a ton of detecting time by using the probe - and a lot of aggravation, too. Sun Ray claims a depth of 3" with the probe, but if you set it up as described above and whip it rapidly over the target, you can pick up another inch or so in depth..

    I learned some other interesting things about the probe along the way, such as how sensitive it is. It will pick up a coin on edge and ID it. Also, with your detector in discriminate mode, you can get very close to metal playground equipment, metal picnic tables, or chain link fences. You can actually use the probe alone to detect shallow coins around playground equipment. I picked up several coins right next to the steel posts on the playground equipment. These would have been impossible to detect with the regular search coil due to their close proximity to the steel post. One nice find was four quarters just under the chips, about 4" from a steel post. Now when I hunt playgrounds like that one, I use the probe to scan around all the metal posts etc., finding all those coins that other hunters miss.

The Sun Ray Invader Probe made locating and recovering these coins, rings, and other items quick and easy.

    You can also use the probe to detect shallow coins (2-3" in depth) in nests of pulltabs. Scan very slowly with your detector to get a hint of a target via a blip of a belltone, then use the probe to scan that same spot, and you can zero in on that elusive target by watching the ID.

    My next outing was to a large sports field that generally gives up a few goodies. I don't ordinarily dig many holes when retrieving coins, but I intentionally dug a few on this outing to give the Invader a true workout. This field has sandy soil that is easy to dig in but hard to retrieve coins from. My first signal rang up as a quarter at 6", so I pinpointed the target and ran my screwdriver probe into the ground, expecting to bump up against a quarter lying flat. No such luck. It went right on toward China. I probed again - and with no luck.

    Frustrated by now, I whipped out my EZ-Digger, scooped out a 6" dollop of dirt and grass, and found... zilch. I scanned the hole and, "Ding, ding!" It was still there. I poked the Invader probe into the hole and got an echo "ding, ding." Then I stuck my screwdriver down in the bottom of the hole, and it headed for China again. Utter frustration was now the theme of the day.

After several agonizing minutes of poking around for the target and running the Invader in the hole to no avail, suddenly I realized what was happening. The Invader probe is hot from tip to tip, and all the way around; so, if you have a target in the side of the hole and you stick the probe straight down in the hole, you will get a signal every time - but you won't know where it's coming from, because the probe is picking up 360 , top to bottom. Having figured this out, I started at the top of the hole, with the tip of the probe against the edge of the hole and the wand at an angle, spiraled the tip down the hole, and nailed the target near the bottom in the side of the hole. It was a big, honking silver ring lying flat, which explains why I kept missing it with my screwdriver.

Bill spirals tip of probe in hole in search of target.

    I continued hunting, picking up about $3 in coins before I headed home with a new respect for the inline probe, which had proved invaluable time after time, finding coins in the sandy soil.


    Well, I'm a full-fledged convert now and would find it difficult to leave home without the Sun Ray Probe. It makes retrieval so much easier, saves a slew of time better spent detecting, and is such a versatile device that can be used for so many different things; locating coins lost in car seats and upholstered furniture, scanning walls for stashes, checking under baseboards and floor trim for coins or stashes behind them, checking rafters for "miser caches," stair banisters, doors, false compartments in drawers or desks, or anywhere one would stash valuables. And since I inadvertently tested this probe far longer than anticipated, I wound up with over $100 in coins, plus several rings and trinkets, many of them sniffed out by the Invader.

The Sun Ray Invader YF-1 retails for $179.95 and comes with a full one-year warranty. For information on the Sun Ray Invader YF-1 or the name of your nearest dealer, contact Sun Ray Detector Electronics, 106 North Main Street, Hazleton, IA 50641. Phone them at (319) 636-2244, visit their website at or go to their other site at and don't forget to mention you read about this product in Western & Eastern Treasures.  

(Sun Ray Note: Due to manufacturing cost increases the YF-1 is now $189.95.)

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